One of the most asked questions I receive from travelers who will be heading to Xinjiang this next travel season has to do with homestays. Is it possible to do a Uyghur homestay in Xinjiang?
The answer is, as with many things in Xinjiang…maybe.
There are many places where homestays have historically been offered, including Tuyoq Valley (near Turpan), around Yili as well as outside Kashgar. Don’t mistake this with an overnight stay at a Kyrgyz yurt, which is also an incredible experience but not quite the same.
Be warned, though – a homestay is very difficult to set up on your own. Your best bet is to go through a travel agency. FarWestChina recommends Old Road Tours to set up your homestay. They’ve received multiple glowing reviews from readers and have a great reputation.
The entrance to the Uyghur home in Tuyoq, a beautiful city about 40km east of Turpan. Before planning such an adventure be aware that these homes are VERY traditional.
There is no running water, you sleep outside near animals, and you must use an outhouse. The experience, however, is worth it!
The beds in this particular homestay were under a grape vine trellis, which is normal for the Turpan area.
The bed is usually just a raised wooden platform where traditional padded pillows and blankets are used for comfort and warmth.
Most Uyghur homestays include a traditional meal to be cooked by the owners of the home. Here the meal was a noodle soup cooked by the light of a single light bulb.
The Uyghur beds after being rolled out at night. You might notice a TV in the background and wonder why they have a TV but no running water. That’s a perfectly legitimate question…and there is no good answer!
Need to use the restroom? Watch out for the cow. Audra calls this the “manger scene” and in this particular Uyghur house you had to walk through this stable area to get to the outhouse.
Final Thoughts | Uyghur Homestay in Xinjiang
Interested in a Uyghur homestay in Xinjiang? You should be! Staying overnight at a local home is one of my favorite memories in Xinjiang and I recommend you give it a try.
It’s probably going to be a bit beyond your comfort zone, but as long as you know that going in, you should be fine.
Remember, if you’re doing any travel to Xinjiang, I highly recommend you grab a copy of the FarWestChina Xinjiang travel guide. It covers not only topics such as Xinjiang homestays, but also many others that you might not have considered.